We know that Ken Giles is going to be the Blue Jays’ closer this season. But, beyond that? It’s anybody’s guess.
According to Keegan Matheson of MLB dot com, the Blue Jays haven’t talked to Giles, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this winter, about an extension yet. Giles went on to add that he would be “all ears” if the Jays wanted to talk about making a deal.
Ken Giles says that there hasn’t been any talk of an extension with the #BlueJays lately, but that he’d be “all ears” if that happens.
Giles, who turns 30 on Sept. 20, is 60 games away from free agency.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 15, 2020
Back in 2018, Giles was acquired from Houston as a reclamation project as he had fallen out of the Astros’ closer role. Giles has rebounded since coming to Toronto as his 2019 season was the best of his career. He picked up 23 saves, posted a 1.87 ERA across 53 innings, and struck out 14.1 batters per nine innings.
So the Giles reclamation project went according to plan, but the entire thing hasn’t worked out for the Blue Jays as expected.
Given where the Jays were in their rebuild last year, they really didn’t have a need for a lock-down closer on their roster. It seemed inevitable that the Jays would cash-in on Giles’ huge season at the trade deadline, but an injury got in the way of finding the right deal.
The Jays instead hung onto Giles, presumably with the plan of dealing him at the 2020 deadline. And then COVID-19 happened and everything changed. Instead of a normal, 162-game season, it’ll be a 60-game season, and it’s difficult to say if a team will give up a package of top prospects in exchange for a few weeks of a closer in this shortened season.
It seemed inevitable that Giles’ role in Toronto’s rebuild would be as a guy who got traded away for prospects, but that might not be the case anymore. There might not be a chance anymore to get a worthwhile return for Giles in a trade, so, with the Jays getting closer to kicking their contention window opening, it might be best to keep him around for the long haul.
If Giles pitches at all as he did in 2019 this summer, he’ll be in line for a big contract this winter. Giles is set to hit the free-agent market along with other big reliever names such as Kirby Yates, Liam Hendriks, Shane Greene, and Alex Colome. The three-year, $40,000,000 deal that Will Smith signed with the Braves over the off-season would probably be what to expect for Giles assuming he pitches well.
Would the Jays dish out that kind of cash for a closer at this stage? Are they close enough to being a contender for it to make sense? It’s impossible to predict what happens at this point. There are plenty of variables flying around here, like how well Giles pitches, how well other relievers on the market pitch, how good the Jays are, and how willing teams are to buy ahead of the trade deadline in this weird, shortened season.
At the very least, if they can’t find a worthwhile trade for Giles this summer, the Jays can issue him a qualifying offer, which would either net the team a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere or see him return to Toronto in 2021.
I know that handing out big contracts to relief pitchers carries a lot of risk, but Giles has been excellent as a Blue Jay thus far, both on the mound and as a person as he’s emerged as a clubhouse leader. It would be nice to see him stick around as the team moves into its competitive window.